Riding the train today I sat next to a slender dark-skinned Dominican girl of 20 who asked me for directions in Spanish, hoping I knew the language, which I grasped enough of to be of help. It was a strange moment for me, as a good 15 years earlier I’d run into a similar young lady of a similar age, but in a completely different city. I was new to Brooklyn then and hadn’t met too many Afro-Latinas in a city full of southern folks. My game back then was nervous, sloppy, passive-aggressive, and she could smell it the way felines sense my fear. Bottom line: I got nowhere.
While that first sista had been as warm as a stone in ice water, this one told me about the frustrations of wearing a weave in America when her hair was very nappy and how no one seems to believe that she wasn’t from another country. She told me my Spanish was good and thanked me for the help. Now I was just being polite. Then I was dripping with #thirst. Now the best thing I could give that little girl was directions, because I knew what a woman was and what I expected of one, and she wasn’t gonna get there until I was damn near 50.
That girl back then was the inspiration for Carolina Martinez, the soulmate of one Dakota Grand, my alter ego and hero of my second novel. My conversation with this one was a nice little snapshot of how much I’ve grown, or how good it feels to be a man who knows what he wants, only seeking fruit that has matured on the vine and not merely hoping gorge on what I could get between my teeth. The flick above is a fave of mine that most have forgotten. But like these moments described, when I saw it I didn’t fully understand the art of the hustle. Now I do.